Astros-Orioles Preview

The last time the Houston Astros dropped a road series, they were closing out yet another miserable season.

The AL's top team can keep that streak going and improve upon the majors' best road record Wednesday with a victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

The Astros (30-17) bounced back from a series-opening loss against Baltimore (20-23) to win 4-1 on Tuesday, going to 15-7 on the road. They won their first four series away from home before splitting four-game sets this month against the Los Angeles Angels and Detroit. They haven't lost a road series since falling in three games to the New York Mets from Sept. 26-28 to finish a 70-win season, their sixth straight under .500.

"We split the series in Detroit and have a chance to have a winning (seven-game) road trip. All positive signs," manager A.J. Hinch told MLB's official website. "That's been our goal in series is to really only focus on today's game. If you let them go any further than that, it's about winning a series and now we have a chance."

Although Houston's offense could hardly be considered potent, it has certainly been timely. All four runs Tuesday were driven in with two outs, and despite the Astros ranking toward the bottom of MLB with a .233 batting average, 85 of their 209 runs (40.7 percent) have come in the seventh inning or later.

Collin McHugh (5-2, 4.06 ERA) has received only seven runs of support in his last four outings entering his start Wednesday. The right-hander has three quality starts in that span and posted a second straight Friday, allowing three runs through seven innings in a 6-2 loss to the Tigers.

McHugh notched only two strikeouts to match his fewest since joining Houston in 2014, but he also issued just one walk - his 11th through nine starts. He ranks among the league's best with 1.72 walks per nine innings.

The right-hander pitched six innings of two-run ball without getting a decision in his only career start against Baltimore in 2014.

He'll oppose Ubaldo Jimenez (3-3, 2.82), who is 4-0 with a 2.24 ERA in nine starts against Houston and has allowed no more than one run in six of the past seven.

Jimenez, though, is coming off arguably his worst performance of the season. He was pulled after four innings Friday against Miami, allowing three runs and seven hits in an 8-5 win.

However, that game came on the road. Jimenez is 3-1 with a 1.29 ERA at Camden Yards this year.

Jose Altuve and Colby Rasmus are each hitting better than .360 against the right-hander, and Rasmus has seven extra-base hits and a 1.155 OPS - his highest against any pitcher with at least 20 at-bats. The rest of Houston's active roster is batting .162 against Jimenez.

Altuve is a career .448 hitter in Baltimore and has three hits in this series. Rasmus is hitless in his last 11 at-bats.

Baltimore's bats have drastically slowed, totaling seven runs over the last four games while hitting .197. The Orioles tallied only five hits Tuesday, three from Jimmy Paredes.

"When you're not scoring a lot of runs, you're not swinging the bats well or like you know you can, the tendency is to press and try to overdo it," said Chris Davis, in a 3-for-35 slump. "I think you've seen that in the last few games."

The Astros have dropped 11 of 14 in Baltimore and have never won a series at Camden Yards.

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